Thursday, January 20, 2011

Field Trip

Can someone take a vacation if he or she doesn't work? I would say the answer is clearly no. If no work is being done, there is no job to be vacating from. It therefore would imply that a very valuable perk of holding full time employment is the ability to enjoy the little time-off that one manages to procure. The unemployed, however, don't even have a single minute of vacation. Even weekends are not vacation. Day in and day out, there is the constant job searching, life planning, soul searching, and basic contemplating. For such a person, a vacation can only come about through an exciting field trip. It also helps if the field trip is completely funded through the finances of a friend. Although the feeling of returning to the usual lack of work resembles that of a recently laid off employee, the ephemeral distraction from reality that an unexpected exploration can offer is a very pleasurable experience.

Today I broke from my usual rather dull routine, and I accompanied my brother and a friend of mine on a visit to the American Museum of Natural History in New York. I woke up early in the morning to learn with my friend like any other day, when he informed me of his plans for taking a trip to the museum. He had the week off for mid-winter vacation, and I had my usual job search and studying to do. When he asked me what my plans were for the day and whether I wanted to join him on an excursion, I couldn't think of any urgent tasks on my schedule. I decided to go with him, and I brought my brother along for the ride. Having ate my daily dose of liquorice and inserting fresh batteries into my camera, all three of us headed to the Manhattan bound subway. Although we did miss our stop due to being on an express train, the train ride was relatively uneventful, and before we could have any serious arguments, we had arrived at our destination.

Of course, living in the twenty first century, a trip is never worth going on if it isn't viewed through the lens of a digital camera. Fortunately I was armed with the memory and battery power to start the trip off on the right foot. Right when we arrived at our station I started shooting some pictures.

When we entered the museum we were greeted with the famous large dinosaur skeleton. As a child I was never really crazy about seeing dinosaurs, and although I had frequented these parts many times before, I never quite appreciated the vast collection of bones they had on display. But now I was a little older, and I had a broad knowledge of Calvin and Hobbes comics. This made me much more interested in seeing these enormous and vicious looking dead animals. Right after buying our tickets we proceeded straight to the fourth floor in search of the T. Rex. The skeleton of this creature was even bigger than I had expected, yet it wasn't too big to fit in my camera's lens or my camera's memory. Naturally, it wasn't too large to fit in the blog either.

Next we saw some Allosaurs, Woolly Mammoths, and some really big looking dinosaurs that had names which I couldn't recall from my comic book knowledge. We covered all the exhibits on the top floor, and thankfully all those enormous skeletons remained dead.

There were lots of interesting videos describing the mind numbing tasks required to find, clean, and preserve buried fossilized bones. It seems that unemployment is not a new phenomenon, and even years ago people would randomly dig for bones in desserts just to earn a few dollars. I asked one of the tour guides what the market value of the T. Rex would be. He told me that a slightly more complete skeleton of the same species was sold in Chicago for 8 million dollars. Having heard that, I now understood why certain people would spend their time doing what they did. I could forget the stock market or searching for gold. All that was necessary was to find a dinosaur's skeleton. For some reason this sounded a lot easier to me than finding a job in this economy. Unfortunately, it is probably a lot harder, and I couldn't even begin thinking of where I would start to look for such things. After all, I had never bumped into dinosaur bones while digging in my backyard.

After finishing the fourth floor it was time for lunch. We took the train to Bryant Park, and found a pizza store around there. Then we stopped to daven at the Chabad of Midtown Manhattan. Because today happened to be Tu Bishvat, there was plenty of new fruits available there for our consumption. We stuck around a little before heading back Uptown. Although, I had very little to do with this decision, we ended up walking the forty blocks back to the museum.

By the time we arrived back I was already very tired. Although my friend claimed to have been rejuvenated by the long walk, he eventually fell asleep sitting down in front of one of the videos about sea creatures. There were way more exhibits than the hours in the day could provide for. We were able to see some of the more important pieces, but before long we decided that we had to start heading home. As usual we saved my favorite exhibit for last, and I was very reluctant to leave the gems behind. We were all very tired, and we started to head home. Fortunately, I was able to snap a few more pictures to make our second visit to the museum worthwhile. Here are some of the highlights.

I had no idea that a Komodo Dragon was this big!

This famous Blue Whale is a must see.

How old do you think this tree was?

Yes this is a real meteorite from outer space.

I thought all the gems were cool but these peridots were something else.

These are some random cool minerals that I didn't have a chance to really see.

And if I'm not mistaken, this exhibit is real gold.

I obviously didn't have enough time to visit all the exhibits, and the gift shop was a place that I real should have had time for. I guess I will have to return for another vacation some day to see what we had missed, and to take some more pictures. Until then I guess I will have to go back to the good old job search. This has been an exciting field trip.

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